Plans for graduate student reading room presented at GPSS meeting monday night

Jillian Alt

Graduate students needing somewhere quiet to study can look forward to a brand new Graduate Reading Room in Parks Library as part of the University Library System’s new renovations.

This room will be for graduate students only to provide them with a quieter space to work and study, to accommodate for their typically busier schedules and heavier workloads.

To determine the needs of the staff, students and faculty of Iowa State and the citizens of Ames who visit Parks Library every day  – roughly 11,000 daily. A library advisory committee was put together and they conducted a space feasibility study from the summer of 2015 to December of 2016.

They met with an architectural design firm from Chicago, and over the year the firm and the staff in  Facilities Planning and Management and the University Library System staff talked about different plans being considered.

Dean of the Library Beth McNeil presented the current plans for the project at the November Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) meeting on Monday.

“With this study we have two major goals,” McNeil said. “One is to increase study space, collaborative, individual, quiet, and we also want to create technology spaces.”

Along with the Graduate Reading Room, other additions will include:

  • Technology Sandbox

  • North entry expansion with cafe

  • Seminar rooms

  • Tiered event space

  • Digital and physical display/gallery

  • Varied seating types

  • Digital Scholarship Center

The first phase of the project is set to take place in summer of 2018, starting with renovations to the bathrooms in Parks Library, with the following phases to be completed at undetermined dates. The Graduate Reading Room is planned to be on the upper floor of the library during phase six of the Parks Library project.

George Weston, vice president of GPSS said he is very excited for what this will mean for graduate students, particularly those who might not have spaces assigned to them. Some graduate students are fortunate enough to have office spaces conducive for studying and doing important work for their thesis, however there are also many who do not.

“This will be really great for graduate students,” said Weston. “There’s a lot of students who might not have an office or maybe their work space is noisy like engineering students so this is really beneficial for them.“

Beth McNeil addressed this during her presentation at the November GPSS meeting during her introduction to the Graduate Reading Room.

“We absolutely recognize that Parks [Library] is quite noisy,” McNeil said. “We are hoping in the future to provide a space more conducive for grad students who want a quiet space.”

Michael Belding, university relations legislative affairs chair of GPSS served on the Library Advisory Committee as a voice for graduate students for the upcoming renovations. He was involved in the space feasibility study.

Belding said he has had a positive experience with the library staff and the architectural firm, and felt student’s needs were understood and addressed with the planning of the new construction.

“I think the library administration and the architectural firm have done an excellent job listening to people’s concerns,” Belding said. “I’m excited to see what it looks like.”

Vivek Lawana, president of GPSS commented regarding the new Graduate Reading Room saying this is well overdue and was something he remembers was requested back when he first became a senator.

“We’re very excited about it and we’ve been needing a space specifically for graduate students,” Lawana said. “Their studying is completely different from undergraduates so this will be very good.

More details regarding the future upgrades will be announced at a later date.